Legislative Council elections 2016

In Hong Kong architecture functional constituency race, CPPCC deputy and Occupy-linked academic challenge Tse

Edward Yiu claims good chance with young electorate in seat which has never been pan-democrat-held.

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 August, 2016, 6:08pm
UPDATED : Monday, 08 August, 2016, 9:26pm

The race to represent the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape sector is expected to be just as fiercely contested as four years ago, as a liberal-minded land policy scholar and a prominent architect take on the Beijing-friendly incumbent Tony Tse Wai-chuen.

Both of the challengers, Dr Edward Yiu Chung-yim and Bernard Lim Wan-fung, said they were disappointed with Tse’s performance.

Yiu, a surveyor who teaches at the Chinese University, gave public lectures to students who boycotted classes ahead of the Occupy Central protests in 2014.

Occupy Central activists, who advocate a bottom-up approach in urban planning, support Yiu, and his campaign team comprises Occupy protesters who helped make his promotional videos.

“I am not an ivory tower type of scholar,” Yiu said. “I have a practice and I have done a lot of consultancy work for government planning projects. My advantage over other practitioners is that our work is backed by scientific analysis.”

With about half of the 7,371 voters in the constituency under 45, Yiu said he would have the support of the young liberal minds and thus some chance of winning the trade-based seat, which has never been pan-democrat-held.

Yiu said he was disappointed by Tse’s failure to cast a vote on political reform last year – instead he followed pro-Beijing lawmakers in a botched walkout – even though Tse had conducted polls in the industry to collect views before the crucial vote.

The other challenger, Lim, stressed he was not of the pro-establishment camp, although he is a Hong Kong deputy to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

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“The deputies to CPPCC are often elite in their own sectors and they represent their trades. It doesn’t mean we lick people’s boots,” the former president of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects said.

He added that he had done his job and submitted proposals on how to improve the mainland’s architectural industry.

The architect also emphasised he had been a vocal critic of government policies, having, for example, successfully co-led a campaign against the contentious plan to award the billion-dollar West Kowloon Cultural District project by way of one single tender a decade ago. Critics then feared a single tender would mean government-business collusion.

Tse won 1,668 votes in a tight three-horse race for the seat in 2012, beating his predecessor Patrick Lau Sau-shing, who got 1,607 votes. Stanley Ng Wing-fai, a member of the Democratic Party, won 1,464 votes.

A supporter of Leung Chun-ying’s rival Henry Tang Ying-yen in the last chief executive election, Lim said he “does not see there is ground” to back Leung seeking a second term next year.

“The chief executive’s job is to listen to the people, build consensus and reduce conflicts. I don’t see Leung has done that,” Lim said.

In his platform, Lim advocates a mechanism to introduce independent cost consultants to monitor the infrastructure projects whose costs have got out of control. While he did not support filibustering in Legco, he said he would not approve funding without asking tough questions.

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Tse, meanwhile, said he would continue to focus on trade issues, vowing to fight for a policy that gives priority to hiring locals when government looks for consultants for construction and development projects. He would also advocate a research centre to provide training and explore new construction technologies.

On Leung, Tse said “it was not about the person but about the election platform and the calibre” and he supported a competitive election.

Tse nominated Leung for the 2012 chief executive election.